I think cheesecake is one of those things you shouldn’t eat more than once or twice a year. Don’t worry, I have my reasons for this seemingly cruel rationing. First of all, we all know that cheesecake is mouth-watering, but unfortunately it’s because of the ingredients. There’s no way around it, this dessert is not good for you. Eating cheesecake all the time will definitely leave you shopping for elastic-waist pants (which is a nightmare in itself), but before I depress you beyond repair, remember what I just said: cheesecake is mouth-watering. It is SO GOOD. This brings me to my second reason for depriving myself of this treat. The less you have it, the more you enjoy it, and you get to keep your pants. It’s a win-win in my book.
That being said, I have a very exciting announcement. After all these years of baking, I have finally created my very own recipe!!!! Of course I would do this with a dessert I hardly ever make, but I’ll ignore that little detail for now and just enjoy this achievement.
Cheesecake is really easy to make. The only obstacle that can turn a moist, beautiful cake into a dry flakey mess is baking time. Baking time? Really? Seems easy enough to monitor, right? Wrong! I’ll share a little secret with you, I took a huge risk with this baking adventure. Not only did I use my own choice of ingredients, I decided on several little cheesecakes, instead of one massive one. This altered standard cheesecake baking time, which is usually about an hour. I was shaking in my little baker boots while these were in the oven, but the Sugar Gods were definitely watching over me, because they turned out perfect, allowing me to not only share the cake but also the recipe! It was a momentous occasion.
The recipe comes in 3 parts: crust (my personal favorite), the filling (duh), and ganache. Crust is awesome. It adds a perfect crunch and even though it’s a staple in every pie, it seems to be a carb-o-licious surprise at the bottom of a mountain of yum.
Given the way I talk about dessert, isn’t it amazing that I don’t weigh 800 pounds? I think so.
Anyway, here’s my recipe. I wonder when saying that will get old…
Cheesecake with Ganache Topping
Nilla Graham Cracker Crust
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup Nilla Wafer crumbs
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Break the graham crackers into pieces and put in a ziplock bag. Use a rolling pin to crush the crackers until you see nothing but crumbs. Put them in a medium-sized bowl, and repeat with the Nilla Wafers.
3. Add the sugar and flour. Mix until evenly distributed.
4. Add the egg yolk, mix well.
5. Melt the butter and add to the mixture. If you melt the butter in the microwave, do it in small increments of 30-40 seconds, stirring the butter for about another 30 seconds between cooking time. This is because even if the butter is not completely melted when you take it out of the microwave, the heat of the melted will more likely than not melt the rest. You don’t want to over-do it.
6. Add the butter to the graham cracker mixture and mix until evenly combined.
7. Press the crust into the pans, and bake for about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Creamy Cheesecake Filling
5 8-oz packages of cream cheese, room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 1/2 tbsp flour
1/8 tsp salt
5 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tbsp lemon or lime juice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt on medium speed until smooth.
3. Beat in remaining ingredients on medium for about 30 seconds, and then reduce the speed to low and beat until well combined and smooth.
4. Pour filling into ramekins (a bit more than 3/4 full) and place on a baking sheet.
5. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes. Keep an eye on them – if you see the sides start to crack or pull away from the dish, they’re done! Take those babies outta there! Set the cakes aside to cool.
Note: I also made cupcake-sized cheesecakes. Follow the instructions for the crust and the filling. Fill the cups 3/4 full and bake for about 20 minutes.
6. Put the cheesecakes in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, but no longer than 48 hours. But who can really wait 48 hours?!
I can’t take credit for this one. The ganache recipe is from everyone’s go-to lady, Betty Crocker.
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
6 oz semisweet baking chocolate, chopped
1. Heat whipping cream over low heat until hot, but not boiling. Remove from heat.
2. Stir in chocolate until melted. Ganache is ready to use when it mounds slightly when dropped from a spoon. It will become firmer the longer it cools. If the cheesecakes aren’t ready, don’t make the ganache yet. The ganache has to be used when it’s made, otherwise you’ll have a big mess and you’ll get really frustrated. No one wants that!
Do whatever your little heart desires with decoration. Since it was Valentine’s Day, I melted 3 types of chocolate and made candy heart molds. Fruit is a classic topping for cheesecake as well. I put the ganache in a piping bag, and then just spooned some on for some of them. Yum!
Here are some of the cupcake-sized cheesecakes:
Confession: I didn’t even try these after I made them! Shocking, I know. But my boyfriend and I did try them at 5am the next morning before work. Talk about starting your day off right!
Bon appétit, mes amis!